Friday, February 27, 2009

There are drums beyond the mountain....

Portland's celebration of Johnny Cash started yesterday at 9 am on WMPG. Johnny Fountain showed up at 11:30 am (after a run in with Johnny Law, who let him off with a warning for expired plates after he learned Johnny Fountain would be playing Johnny Cash on the radio). Ceci Gilson of WMPG's "Kitchen Party" presided over the 3 hours of Cash music, which also included performances by Dave Gutter, Pecos Bill, and Rebecca Minnick.

Ceci was also excited to learn that John was one of the organizers of Tower of Song, and conducted an impromptu interview on the subject. More information on March's Tower of Song soon.

Johnny played "Long Black Veil" and "A Boy Named Sue"- you can listen to the latter by clicking the video above.

At 9 pm, doors opened at SPACE Gallery for the Johnny Cash Tribute night. Johnny Fountain took the stage first and lit into a rip roaring version of "A Boy Named Sue" and had the whole audience cheering along.

Next it was time for the live debut of The Panda Bandits, the once "imaginary" band started by Alicia and Me. We had the honor of being joined by a veritable super group of Portland talent including Fountain, his drummer from the Manes- Dan Boyden, Pond Trotter's Patrick Dennis (who are finishing up their debut album now) on upright bass, Ian Riley of Anna's Ghost also on drums, two giraffes on loan from Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, and Jess Sheldon holding it down on the tambourine.

We played "Drums" from Johnny Cash Sings the Ballad of the American Indian: Bitter Tears. Johnny Cash had great empathy for the American Indian, and I thought it was important that the Panda Bandits represent that oft-overlooked part of the Cash Oeuvre. As for how the performance went, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

The rest of the night brought us great versions of Folsom Prison Blues, Ballad of a Teenage Queen, and When the Man Comes Around, among lots of other tunes. Oh, and there was plenty of whiskey, too. The show ended with Over A Cardboard Sea, one of my new favorite bands in Portland, performing the first song Johnny Cash ever learned to play. There was also a final group jam on Ring of Fire... but we'll let that pass into legend.

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